UPDATES WITH OBAMA LAYING WREATH AT MEMORIAL
By Todd Crowell
TOKYO (AA) - United States President Barack Obama has laid a wreath at a cenotaph in Japan's Hiroshima that commemorates the August 1945 U.S. atomic bombing that led to the deaths of around 140,000 people.
In doing so, he became the first U.S. head of state to visit the Japanese city since the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought an end to World War II.
Early Friday morning, Obama left the central Japanese city of Shima, arriving in Hiroshima just after 5 p.m. (0800GMT), according to Kyodo news agency.
Obama is in the country to attend the two-day G7 summit of seven leading industrialized countries and the European Union that began in Shima on Thursday.
He had earlier pledged to take a tour of Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park following a meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"Our visit to Hiroshima will honor all those who were lost in World War II and reaffirm our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons," Obama told a press conference in Shima on Wednesday.
The bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9 led to Japan's surrender in World War II.
At least 140,000 people -- mostly civilians -- are reported to have died in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki.
The bombing of Hiroshima was the world's first nuclear bombing.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited Hiroshima on May 25, 1984, and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev visited the museum in April 1992, having traveled to Nagasaki the previous year.